Rare tropical fish caught off EL

Long journey from home waters is evidence of impact of climate change

PREMIUM

A rare fish caught off the East Coast on December 27 has been identified as a three-toothed puffer fish (Triodon macropterus).
When a local deepsea fisherman, Jordan Lentz of Chintsa, caught it, everyone on the boat was decidedly “hands off”.
EL Museum scientist Kevin Cole said the discovery of the fish so far from its tropical territory was further evidence of the impact of climate shift.
The fish is only the second specimen on record for the East London Museum. The other was caught in 2014.
Distinguished by its noticeably fused teeth, yellowish brown body and a white belly flap with a black blotch, the species can reach up to 54cm in size.
“It’s quite a big find and we’re in the process of registering it as a world record so hopefully that will go through,” said Lentz.
“It was pure coincidence and no one really wanted to touch it when we first found it because none of us really knew what it was.”
Lentz’s 48cm special catch was hooked at 11am on December 27 16km off Kwelera river mouth at a depth of between 88m and 101m.
“What is interesting for science is that this fish is recorded as being a tropical Indo-Pacific species living in deep waters of up to 300m. Having been caught so close to East London, this specimen will add to the range extension data for the species,” said Cole.
“There is strong evidence to show that tropical fish species extensions into temperate waters are occurring more frequently worldwide, and this puffer fish contributes to evidence related to climate shift.”
Cole said the species is the only living example of the Triodon genus of the Triodontidae family and that fossil records of the Triodontidae family date back 33-56 million years.
The first record of the species for the EL Museum was caught by Johan Deetlefs on March 29 2014 and the specimen has been given to the SA Institute of Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB) in Makhanda.
The new specimen will also be sent to the SAIAB.
“The museum thanks Mr Lentz for donating this fish to science, and for logging the catch detail in a very thorough manner,” said Cole...

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